This week sees the release of director Eran Riklis’ atmospheric espionage thriller, Spider in the Web, starring Ben Kingsley as an Israeli Mossad agent, who is assigned to investigate an organisation that could be selling chemical weapons to a Syrian dictatorship.
Monica Bellucci plays the mysterious Angela Caroni, a shady operative who may also be involved in the weapons supply while harbouring other, darker secrets.
HEYUGUYS recently caught up with Bellucci to discuss the film, her role, balancing family life with film-making and the magical moments bringing characters to life.
HEYUGUYS: Your character Angela is quite elusive and enigmatic, but the story was also complex and labyrinthine? Was it the character that appealed to you more, or the script?
MONICA BELLUCCI: What really drew me to the story was the humanity more than the espionage. The characters have great depth and delicateness which is ultimately their downfall. To me, this was so interesting. Angela has this code of ethics and humanity about her, even though she could be hiding secrets. She speaks of adopting children and has a love story too which reveals truths about her that are questioned by others, because she lives in a world full of lies.
That is when the mind games between her and Adereth (Ben Kingsley) come into play.
Yes, Adereth does the same thing, but it’s hard to tell when and if they are just playing a game or whether what seems real is just manipulation.
As well as because of Angela, I also wanted to do the movie to work with Ben Kingsley and Eran Riklis (director). I have so much respect for their work. Eran did films I loved like Lemon Tree and The Syrian Bride. I like the way that women are portrayed in his films, so I was very interested to be part of this project to work with them.
Did your character change much in the process of bringing her to life from page to screen?
With characters, there are always technical parts to take into consideration: how she dresses, how she walks, what kind of life she comes from, but there is also a part that is completely irrational. Sometimes you think you fully understand the role, but something magical might happen on set. An unconscious element that could come out, sometimes only a few seconds before shooting, which really brings the character to life. This is magical to me and one of the most exciting parts of film-making.
Is it often hard to find projects that feel would give the ability for this to happen, or resonate with you in another way?
It’s difficult to make choices sometimes and quite rare to come across projects I really like. A career is defined by choices, so I prefer to work on those that are really fulfilling instead of just convenient. Because to make a movie is hard: you have to prepare, wake up early, stay away from family for a long time sometimes, it’s a big commitment so it’s important to work on projects you feel strongly for. I always try to make films that I have an emotional connection with or mean something personal.
Spider in the Web is very multi-layered and mysterious. Do you prefer this type of cinema to more escapist, mainstream films?
I am not really bothered about the genre or style, as long as it is interesting and there is substance and metaphors, or a variety to the work I do. I did a completely different film recently with Australian film-makers Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner called Nekrotronic which had loads of action and special effects. I went to Australia and played the villain in that. For me it’s all about getting the chance to work with directors from different countries. I have worked with an Israeli director, Serbian director, English director.
For Spider in the Web, we were in Belgium, which was amazing. I’d only been there once before, a long time ago, so it was great to go back and see new places there. I like that my work gives me the opportunity to see and experience different languages and cultures.
I guess it will always help you continue to develop as an actor and artist too.
Yes, acting also allows me to look deep in myself and find out things about me as a person. I love creating and exploring different human sides. I say this all the time, but actors are really fragile, because our personality is an object we work with. We don’t have a specific, physical instrument or specific tool, we are the instrument. This can make us vulnerable and fragile sometimes.
Because you are manufacturing emotions all the time?
Because we are working within a representation of reality and creating characters that are born through us. It can make you feel fragile. But finding the right part can also be difficult, especially when you have kids. You need to get the balance in your life, and then find the scripts with roles that satisfy you both as a woman and an actress. I had kids kind of late but before that I had time to build up my career. Now I can go for a few months without working and spend time with my family, catch up with others in Italy before I make another movie. Between one film and another, I always make sure I have lots of time for my family.
SPIDER IN THE WEB is available on Digital download now